Mid-Life Cycling

Mid-Life Cycling

31 May 2013

What I Remembered On My Memorial Day Ride

I can't think of any bike ride I've taken, at any time in my life, that didn't leave me in a better state, in some way or another, than I was in before the ride.

Sometimes it's the exhiliaration of riding a particular distance, up a mountain or across some other type of difficult terrain. Other times, the euphoria can come from having braved rough weather conditions--or enjoying favorable ones.  Or we can be happy about something we've seen, someone we've met or a meal or snack we've eaten (or drunk!) along the way. 

I was happy I took my ride to Somerville on Memorial Day because, as I mentioned, I got to see a race and I pedaled my first (non-metric) century in three years. But, ironically enough, some of the happiness I felt from doing, and having done, the ride came from the moments of melancholy I experienced along the way.

You see, along the way, I rode along roads, through places, I hadn't seen in a very long time.  But I once rode them routinely, especially when I was a student at Rutgers and during the time I lived in the area after returning from living in  France.  

Sometimes I rode with the Central Jersey Bicycle Club, back when long-distance (or almost any adult) cyclists were still geeks of a sort.  In those days, most people who didn't live within a town or two also didn't know about the race, let alone the Tour de France or the Giro d'Italia.  And most motorists had no idea of what to do when a cyclist was on the road.  (Many still don't.) 

Much of what I saw, and experienced was familiar to me.  Road surfaces on Route 28 in and around Plainfield and Bound Brook were just as bad as I remembered them.  Of course, that added to the charm of Monday's ride.  Also, the towns I saw along the way hadn't changed nearly as much as I expected.  Sure, there were some new houses and office buildings, and the complexions of some towns' residents had darkened or lightened, but they--and everything around them--were unmistakably Central New Jersey.  In other words, they're close enough to New York that many commute to it, but far enough not to seem like a suburb of the Big Apple.  Also, even in an affluent town like Westfield--whose downtown has stores that rival those of other high-income enclaves--there is still the down-to-earth quality one finds in more working-class towns like Bound Brook and Plainfield, a quality I don't find, say, on Long Island.

Also, I found myself re-connecting with a rhythm of riding I didn't realize I followed through all of those years I lived and rode in the area.  New Jersey, of course, doesn't have the kind of mountains that Colorado or Vermont have.  But, when you ride in New Jersey, you can count on this general principle:  If you are riding north or west, you're going to higher ground.  So, you can expect to do some climbing.  Because many extant roads in the Garden State were created by simply paving over older roads (or even trails)--some of which date to the Revolution or even earlier--climbs tend to come more suddenly.  You climb mostly in short bursts because there's often very little to lead up to it.  More modern roads have more gradual (if longer) inclines and longer straightways leading to them mainly because modern road-building techniques made such things possible.

Also, if you pedal south or west, there's a good chance you'll be riding into the wind (if indeed there is any).  In thinking back to the days when I rode almost daily in that area, I realize that I often, unconsciously, rode in accordance with the terrain and wind patterns I noticed on Monday.

I guess some rides--especially if we begin them when we're young--never end.


30 May 2013

Bicycling: An Early Ex-Gay Therapy

By now, I'm sure you've heard that Michele Bachmann is not running for re-election.

I'm going to miss her.  After all, how many other people can make Sarah Palin seem--if only momentarily--sane and, at times, relatively coherent?

I mean, it's not just anybody about whom we can say that her assertion that gays can be "cured" is one of the less wacky things she says.  After all, she consulted the most impeccable authority on the subject:  her husband, who runs an "ex-gay clinic".  

Now, why am I mentioning that crazy couple on this blog?

Well, one reason is, of course, that this blog may be the only one in the world written by a onetime boy racer who became a lady rider.  But, in reading about so-called "conversion therapies" intended to make gay people straight, I learned that this sort of thing has been going on for even longer than I'd realized.  As you may know, people have tried to "cure" lesbians and gay men with electroshock treatments, lobotomies, cold baths, physical torture and even attempts to nudge benighted boys and girls to form loving non-sexual relationships with peers of the same gender.

And, for centuries, doctors, athletes and others have claimed that they could "cure" homosexuality through lots of intensive outdoor activity and vigorous exercise.  And, as you know, bicycling falls into both categories. 

So, as you've probably guessed, a physician who was once a respected authority in his field saw bicycling as a way of exorcising same-sex desires.

Graeme M. Hammond was a New York City-based neurologist and competitive fencer.  (He appeared, at age 54, in individual fencing events of the 1912 Olympics.)  Given that he was an athlete of one sort or another for nearly his entire life, it's not surprising that he would think that exercise is "good for what ails ya'."  Nor is it unusual to find that he believed homosexuality to be a neurological disorder, as nearly every physician and scientist who thought about the matter--including Dr. Harry Benjamin--believed the same thing. 




However, what's really interesting about Dr. Hammond's work is the reason why he proposed cycling as a "cure" for homosexuality:  He believed it to be a result of "nervous exhaustion." Cycling, he said, would help to "restore health and heterosexuality" and to cure other nervous conditions.

He also advocated bicycling and other exercise for women because--to his credit--he believed we are the "fighting sex."  The good doctor/fencer thought we would make better soldiers than men 'if only they could "acquire the physical strength and mental discipline" which, he believed, had been denied us through a culture that "mollycoddled" us and promoted "overindulgent lifestyles in regard to diet and exercise."

I like to think he was right about women.  Now, about cycling:  I'm all for just about anything that will get more people to ride bikes.  But now I know one place where I draw the line.  Plus, if you're reading this blog, you have some idea of just how effective cycling is at changing a person's sexual desires--or gender identity!


29 May 2013

My Tour To Somerville

Memorial Day was cool and a bit windy.  The former part I like; the question was what to do about the latter.

Of course, if you're a savvy old cyclist, you plan a ride in which you're pedaling into the wind on your way out.  That way, the wind blows you back home. 



Plus, Arielle was begging not to go on just any old ride.  She wanted to see a race. 
 
Because she's been good to me, I granted her wish.  Actually, she granted mine, too:  I felt like taking a nice, long ride.

Where did we end up?

  
No, we didn't go to the hotel, as interesting as it is.  But we went to the eponymous county--out in West-Central New Jersey.

Said hotel is located in the county seat, just down the street from the courthouse.  The name of that town is Somerville.   If you're a bike racing fan, you've heard of it:

    
The Tour of Somerville Cycling Series is a three-day event that includes several races (including a women's race) andculminates with a Senior Men's 50-mile race on the afternoon of Memorial Day.  The series has run every year since 1947.  Actually, 1940 witnessed the first Series; World War II suspended it from 1943 to 1946.  The Senior Men's Race is  officially named the Kugler-Ross Memorial Tour of Somerville, in honor of the first two winners:  Furman Kugler (1940 and 41) and Carl Anderson (1942).  Both were killed while fighting the war.

For a long time--particularly during the Dark Ages of US cycling (roughly the two decades after World War II), the ToS was, arguably, the sport's biggest--or only--showcase in the US.   Whoever won the race was generally acknowledged to be the best American cyclist.  

Calling the race a "tour" in not some francophilic (or europhilic) affectation.  Rather, it was a legalism the race's founder pulled off just so it could be held at all.   At the time, New Jersey state law prohibited racing for prizes on highways.  Somerville's Main Street is State Highway 28.  So Fred Kugler (Furman's father) labelled the Somerville event a "tour".

As you might expect, many townspeople and residents of nearby communities turn out for the event, as there is no admission charge.  Also, because the races are held on a loop of closed-off street and are therefore fast and full of tight turns, they excite even non-cycling fans.

One of the more amusing aspects of the race is watching people cross the street after the peloton has passed--until the next lap, anyway.

 
They have to be quick:

 
 Otherwise, they could meet an unhappy ending:

 
 All right.  He didn't cross the path of the peloton. He wandered into US Highway 22, which I crossed en route.  Perhaps another race will be a memorial for him.

Seriously, everyone else seemed to be having  a good time. And, given the routes I took, I ended up doing a century.  I mean, an Imperial, not a Metric One.  101 miles, to be exact.


28 May 2013

New York Pretzels

Time was, not so long ago, that every true New Yorker had eaten a hot pretzel sold on a street cart at least once.  And, if you were a tourist, that was part of your "New York experience."

As often as not, we bought those pretzels from the same carts that sold hot dogs--usually the Sabrett's brand.  You could find such carts in just about every neighborhood in the five boroughs, and, it seemed, on nearly every corner in the busier parts of Midtown and Downtown Manhattan.


By Francisco Companioni


But I've noticed that in the past fifteen years or so, those carts have been disappearing.  Or, perhaps, I just don't notice the existing ones as much, as The Big Apple's street food offerings have become more diverse.  Now it's possible to find carts and trucks from which crepes, waffles, fried chicken, various Middle Eastern and Indo-Pakistani delicacies, sushi and even Maine Lobster rolls are vended.  Back in the day, carts that sold pretzels and Sabrett's hot dogs pretty much were New York street food.

Truth be told, most of the time the pretzels weren't that good.  Usually, when you bought one, it spent hours over the warmer, so it was probably as dry as the salt crystals that coated its top.  Now, I don't claim to be a pretzel aficianado, but if I'm going to eat a big, hot pretzel, I want it to be chewy.  If I want hard pretzels, I'll stick to the smaller ones that you can buy in most grocery stores.

Anyway, as those Sabrett's carts have disappeared in New York, I've noticed another kind of pretzel.  I found this sample on a Tribeca street today:




That doesn't even come close to being the worst I've seen.  Here's something even more bent:


From Abandoned Bicycles of New York

When I worked in bike shops, we used to say such wheels were "pretzeled".  But a wheel like that can only be found in the Big Apple, I think.

The street pretzel vendors of yore didn't seem to realize that it doesn't take very long to turn something into a pretzel--which is the reason why their snacks were usually dry and hard.  But seriously: Once I parked on a street near the UN for about 45 minutes.  That's all it took to turn my rear wheel into one of those twisted treasures.  The difference is, the New York pretzels on bikes can't be made edible by slathering them with mustard!

26 May 2013

A New Neighbor

I pedaled into wind that felt more like a boomerang of January than the first wave of summer.  Only a block from my apartment, I felt as if a season, an age, had passed. In the corner of my eye, I glimpsed this:


Even at this distance, something told me this wasn't a typical bike parked on a street in my neighborhood.  I made a U-turn so I could take a look.  


What else could have set off my radar?  I hastily snapped this photo, the one above it and another


when the bikes owner showed up.  I internally braced myself; he smiled warmly and said "hello."


Noah is from Montreal but now lives a couple of neighborhoods away from me.  He bought his 1981 King of Mercia from a woman on the Upper West said who, he said, was offered more money than he paid for the bike.  The would-be buyer was a collector; the woman, who'd stopped riding, still appreciated the bike enough that she preferred to sell it to someone who would ride it.  

Shortly after buying it, he converted it to a single speed but kept the old components. He set up the original crankset with a single ring but, of course, installed a new pair of wheels and pedals.  However, he rides the bike with the really nice Sun Tour Superbe brakes that came with it.  And he replaced the original saddle with one that really belongs on that bike:  a Brooks B-17.

In the course of our conversation, I might have talked him out of repainting his bike, even to "restore" it to its original look.  Actually, I was talking myself out of doing the same to Vera. Truth is, I can't justify spending the money, given my current finances.  But Noah said he was "glad to hear" that I'd considered refinishing  but thought better of it.  "It's really a beautiful bike."

So is his.  Refinishing it would only make it look new, or newer.  That, I think, is the real beauty of bikes like his.

25 May 2013

Record Holder Is Gissy, Not Evel

The next time you're sideswiped by some guy delivering Chinese food on a motorized bike,  call him the  slowpoke he really is.  After all, he can't hold a candle (especially a Roman one) to this courer:





On a track neaer Mulhouse, in eastern France, Francois Gissy rode a rocket-powered mountain bike in the slipstream of a dragster.   In the process, he set a new speed record for mountain bikes--163 mph--which fell just short of the overall record of 167mph.  

With his bike and white suit, he reminds me, in a way, of Evel Knievel.  Evel couldn't jump the Snake River Canyon on a motorcycle that looked more like, well, a rocket.  What if he'd had a mountain bike--with rockets--instead?  And what if Gissy had Evel's motorcycle?

A French Evel Knievel?  What an idea!

24 May 2013

Don't Forget Your Lycra!

Here's something to give new meaning to the term "fashion police":

In the UK town of Bath (as in Chaucer's "Wife of..."), constables stopped cyclist Tim Burton, who was riding a fixed-gear bike.  That in itself is fairly unusual in that area, as it's fairly hilly, so not many people ride fixies.  

But, as Burton explained, the bike has dropped bars (as, ahem, a real fixed-gear bike should ;-)) and, to a casual observer, might look like a road bike.  Turns out, there'd been a rash of "garage and shed break-ins"in which bikes--mainly road bikes--were taken, according to Officer Keith James.  So what made Officer James think Burton was un voleur de bicyclette?


Sit down before you read the answer:  Burton wasn't wearing any lycra.

Yes, you read that right.  Apparently, Officer James thought Burton wasn't a "real" cyclist and therefore had no business riding as good a bike as his.  "Maybe I didn't look hipster enough," he mused.

After performing a check of the bike's serial number and Burton's background, the constables released Burton with his bike.  Even after his ordeal, he said, "It's nice to see them looking out for pinched bikes.  I told (the officer) I appreciated it."  And he certainly didn't miss the irony:  "It's amusing that I've been stopped for no Lycra!"

Now,if I were to wear Lycra, that would really be a crime!

22 May 2013

If We Want Bike Share To Work In New York

The buzz in New York City cycling (and other) circles is about the Bike Share program, which is scheduled to begin by the end of this month.

About 300 kiosks have been set up; the number is expected to double over the next few yearsPerhaps in response to complaints about them, the kiosks are movable.  In Paris and London, where two of the earliest bike-share programs began, the kiosks were trenched into the ground, making them difficult to maneuver or remove.  The Big Apple instead took its construction cues from Montreal, where the kiosks are anchored by nothing more than their own weight. Thus, spaces can be moved or removed for construction or emergencies.

Commuter at Capital Bikeshare kiosk in Washington, DC. From Velojoy


Some people questioned the wisdom of adding so many more bikes to the city's streets.  I, for one, think questions should have been directed at the idea of trying to shoehorn as many motorized vehicles as possible into the city's streets--which seemed to be the Department of Transportation's guiding policy for decades.  It's not the number of bikes on the street that increases the risk of injury or death, as some allege.

Such critics point to the three cyclists who were killed during Velib's first year of operation in the City of Light.  Rather than to blame a bike-share program--for, essentially, getting people to abandon their pre-Velib modes of transportation--more attention needs to be paid to the conditions in which urban cyclists ride.

Just as Parisian cyclists learned about the dangers of turning trucks, truck drivers learned to pay more attention to cyclists--and to warn them about "blind spots."  After three years of cycling in Paris and three decades in New York, as well as riding elsewhere, I honestly believe that most truck drivers are courteous and do their best to drive as safely as possible.  At least, that has been my experience with them.  (I'll admit that my view might be colored by the fact that relatives of mine have driven for a living.)  However, it doesn't hurt to remind them that they share the streets with cyclists and that sometimes they are steering their big rigs across the paths of bike lanes.  

The Department of Transportation--and, sadly, local bike-advocacy organizations like Transportation Alternatives--have never done that.  Rather, they have focused their efforts to cautioning cyclists about the dangers trucks pose to them. While such warnings are justified and useful, I think the other side of the story must be presented.

Also, having cycled in London, Boston and Montreal (all of which now have bike-share programs), as well as Paris, New York and other cities, I can say that my hometown has some of the worst street conditions in the developed world.  One of the running jokes is that some potholes have their own ZIP Codes; some in the tonier neighborhoods have elevators and concierge service.  Seriously, I have seen cyclists lose their balance and even fall because they were rattled and bounced on road surfaces that are more lunar than terrestrial. In one instance, a woman's front wheel was caught in a pothole when she dodged an opening car door. Fortunately, she suffered nothing worse than a few scrapes and a couple of bruises.

So, while I applaud the Bike Share program, I still think that the Department of Transportation need to look at what else other cities did--whether in education, infrastructure repairs or other areas--as they implemented their bike share programs.  Otherwise, the program will have a similar effect to the construction of bike lanes:  It might get more people to ride, but it won't make for a safer, let alone more bike-friendly,environment.

21 May 2013

Riding In Reno

I'm always happy to see elected officials and other celebrities actually riding bikes, rather than just using them for photo-ops.

Here's Bob Cashell, the Mayor of Reno, NV, endorsing the bicycle as a way to commute and a viable means of transportation:




Don't you just love some of the bikes in the video?  The "moonbuggy" was designed by engineering students at a local school.  

I'm happy that a narrator at the end of the video mentioned "the need to make cycling more affordable for our community".  There are other issues, too, that have to be addressed in order to get more people to ride to work, shop and play.  

At least we can hope that this campaign won't lead to a bunch of poorly-designed and -constructed bike lanes and poorly thought-out polices as we have seen in New York and other cities.

I wonder, though, about the choice of music in that video!

18 May 2013

Hydrating In Style

Do any of you own a Campagnolo corkscrew?

I first saw one around the same time I started to cycle long distances--during my teen years in the 1970's.  Having scrimped and saved to buy a Nishiki International and a Peugeot PX-10, I couldn't believe someone would pay $200--even if it was designed by Tullio himself and gold-plated.





As I understand, the gold-plated version is still being made. I can only imagine what it costs, as it was priced at $200 before the price of gold skyrocketed.  Still, if I were to buy a Campy corkscrew, I think I'd prefer the bronze model:  I think it's the most attractive and seems, well, more Campagnolo-esque (at least in the old-school way) than the others.




I also like the silver one; then again, I'm normally partial to silver.  Still, I don't know if I'll ever buy one.

I'm thinking about those corkscrews now because someone alerted me to this:



Now, admit it:  You simply can't conceive of doing your daily commute, let alone a ride across the continent, without having a bottle opener handy at all times.  And what better place for it than the saddle rails?



Best of all, it's made in gold and silver.  Now, if you have a Brooks saddle copper-plated rails, which one would you get?  Or what if you have titanium rails?

Even if you' never break a sweat, you still need to hydrate. 

Of course, you could carry one of these with you:


Maillard Helicomatic lockring remover

It may be the only bike tool ever made that includes a bottle opener.

17 May 2013

Put On Purple And Ride To Work

Today is national Ride Your Bike to Work Day.

I just found out that it's also "Put On Purple" Day.  The Lupus Foundation of America has so designated this day to raise awareness of one of the most pervasive and severe conditions most people don't know about.  

One reason for the lack of awareness, I believe, is that many people perceive--as I did, until recently--that the disease only affects African-Americans.  Another reason is that 90 percent of its victims are female.  Illnesses that affect mostly women and girls are given the short shrift vis-a-vis those that affect males because medicine, as we know it, is a partiarchy.  Not only are the vast majority of doctors still men, so are and were most of their medical-school professors.  Said professors, like their counterparts in any other field, teach their students what they learned.  Given that--because, until recently, nearly all doctors and researchers were men--most research was done on conditions that mostly affect males, and the "baseline" sex in medicine has been male.

Anyway, if I had known that Put On Purple and Bike To Work Day converged as they did today, I'd have organized a ride in which everyone wears a purple jersey or T-shirt. And, of course, I'd be on it, riding one of my purple bikes (actually, Mercian finish #57)!

Here is someone who would definitely belong on such a ride:






16 May 2013

Creative Cycling

"The meaning of life came to me while I was washing the dishes.  I wrote it down on a napkin, but it got soaked and the ink ran."

I don't remember who told me that.  It was said in jest, but perhaps it's not such a joke after all.

After all, how many times have you had ideas come to you when you were occupied with something else?  Or, better yet, while you were on your bike, dodging and weaving through traffic or pumping your way up an 8 percent grade?

If you've had inspiration, or simply moments of clarity, while riding your bike, you shouldn't be surprised.  After all, more oxygen is being pumped to our brains, which are probably in a somewhat altered state of consciousness anyway.

I am thinking about that now because I came across this photo of Sir Edward Elgar:





While it says great things about how good cycling can be for our creative processes, it doesn't say much about his relationship with his wife.  Was she a "bike widow" or a "music widow"?

Elgar was an enthusiastic cyclist who often pedaled the 90-mile (150km) round-trip to see his favorite football team, the Wolverhampton Wanderers.  He said that some of his music came to him while he was in the saddle.

That is what this writer said about some of his work:


 I can just imagine Count Tolstoy stopping in the middle of the taiga and hurriedly scribbling War And Peace before re-mounting his wheels.

Speaking of writers, you've probably seen this image of Henry Miller:

 

But I'll bet you haven't seen this one of Thomas Hardy:


Around the same time, one of the very first tandems was ridden by none other than Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and his wife:


About a century later,  Patti Smith was helping to make the Meatpacking District--and city bikes--fashionable:


And, of course, no blog post about creative people and great thinkers on bicycles would be complete without this image:


Einstein said that the concept of the Theory of Relativity came to him while he was riding his bicycle.  That makes perfect sense, especially if you believe that the universe is a giant wheel.

15 May 2013

Getting More People To Bike To Work

Two weeks ago, I wrote about something that, I believe, is the most important factor in making a city (or culture) "bike friendly".

Today, I'm going to share some of my ideas about something that could turn more drivers into cyclists and, thus, make a city more "bike friendly":  getting more people to ride bikes to work, school and for errands, shopping and other short trips. 



As more than a few bloggers, writers, urban planners and others who've thought about the topic (including yours truly) have said, employers as well as governments can offer people incentives to ride their bikes to work.  Governments can offer things like tax incentives, both to cyclists (or anyone who doesn't use an automobile) and to employers who encourage their employees to ride to work.  Governments could also offer retailers and other small business owners incentives to make it easier to park bikes safely in or around their facilities.

The Federal Commuter Tax Benefit took effect on 1 January 2009.  An employee can receive up to $20 a month for riding his or her bike to work if--and this is a big if--the employer offers the benefit.  As of now, it's not mandatory.  Also, an employee can receive the benefit only if he or she does not receive other transportation benefits in the same month.

Rep. Earl Blumenauer of Oregon has tried to amend the FCTB so bike commuters could receive the transportation benefit and divert the $20 from their own money, rather than asking for it from their employers.  Such attempts have been unsuccessful, possibly because most employers who provide transportation benefits do so through a benefit provider, just as they contract for employee health benefits through insurance companies or state plans.  Although I have no experience in this area, I imagine that it's harder for an employer to get their providers to change a policy than it is for them to change policies regarding benefits they provide in-house, on their own.

It's obvious how such a benefit can help cyclists both in helping to defray the costs of cycling (which, while far less than automotive commuting, can still add up) and to pay less in taxes.  But--again, I speak as a layperson--I should think that employers would like it because, as a pre-tax benefit, it would save them money on taxes as well.

I think governments could do even more.  For instance, those who itemize their deductions  could be allowed for the expenses incurred while cycling to work, just as automotive (or other vehicle) expenses can be deducted.  And, I think greater deductions could be allowed for business owners and employers who offer such things as indoor bicycle parking facilities and facilities in which employees can clean themselves up and change clothes.

As for employers, some interesting and creative suggestions are offered on the website of Muskegon County (Michigan) Ride On!  One is offering "starter kits" consisting of items like patch kits, reflective stickers, water bottles and a bike commuter's handbook to employees.  Another is making arrangements with local bike shops to offer free or subsidized tune-ups on employees' bikes.  Also suggested are having employee groups participate in local cycling events, or for the employers to have such events themselves--as well as recognition for participants as well as those who regularly ride to work.  And, perhaps most enticing of all, employees could receive discounts or subsidies on the purchase of bicycles and other bicycle-commuting necessities.  Or, employers could provide financing or payroll deductions for such purchases.

Any of these ideas--and greater implementation of tax breaks and monetary benefits for commuting--will do more to get people to ride their bikes to and from work than all of the bike lanes that have ever been built.


14 May 2013

Stoopidtall

If you're reading this, you've probably seen at least one "funny bike":  you know, the kind with one frame is stacked on top of another.  

I've seen as many as four frames stacked up, with I-don't-know-how-many kilometers of chain connecting the cranks bearing the pedals with conveyor cogs and the sprocket that spins the chain that drives the rear wheel.  It was parked, so I don't know who (or whether anyone) rode it, let alone how he or she would have mounted such a machine.  

Turns out, that bike wasn't nearly as tall as one someone rode (yes, rode) at Ciclavia, a car-free bike ride through Los Angeles streets.  






Now I'm going to show you how much of an East Coaster I am:  I can't believe I typed the "car-free" and "Los Angeles" in the same sentence.  Still, I find it even more incredible that someone was actually astride that contraption.

If you really want to be amazed, here's a video of someone riding it:






That intrepid cyclist is 14.5 feet (about 4 meters) above Santa Monica Boulevard, or wherever he was riding.  Although I admire him, I don't think I would try it at home--or L.A., or anywhere else.

If that bike were ever to come to New York, its name would help it to fit right in:  It's called Stoopidtall.

12 May 2013

CycloFemme In Ottawa

Here's something I wish I'd known about sooner:




Today, a new ride is taking place in Ottawa to honor Global Women's Cycling Day, or CycloFemme.

Rides and other events to honor this day--which also happens to be Mother's Day in the US. (Yes, I called my mother!)  Today's ride is the first such event for the Canadian capital.

According to the announcement, women of all ages and cycling abilities are welcome.  And there's no entrance fee. What's not to like?

I've never cycled in Ottawa, but I hear that an active cycling community has developed there.  Given what I experienced when cycling in another Canadian bilingual city--Montreal--I wouldn't be surprised.

11 May 2013

A Bike Tom Would Have Liked

Thomas Avenia, who owned one of the first (and, for a long time, one  of the few) shops in the US to sell lightweight bicycles, once told me that track bikes are "the king of bicycles."  He, who lived to be 95 years old, rode one well into his 80's.

I recently spotted one that I think he could have appreciated:





Now, he never would have ridden his with those handlebars:  His own machine, a vintage Frejus, had TTT Pista bars, if I recall correctly.  But the rest of the Bridgestone I spotted would have pleased him.

I think I've seen one or two other Bridgestone track bikes.  This is the first chromed one I've seen.  

If I'm not mistaken, this Bridgestone track bike was built by hand, in a separate area from other Bridgestone bikes.  Most Bridgestones I've seen had clean, well-finished lugs and paint.  They're even better, I think, on this bike.





Bridgestones were originally imported into the US under the name "Kabuki" during the 1970's. In the 1980's and early '90's, Grant Petersen worked for the company and helped to design the bikes that were imported into the US until 1994.  




I feel that the only Japanese bikes that were as good as, or better than, Bridgestones were made by Miyata and Panasonic.  They are also among the most sought-after mass-produced vintage bikes.  

Tom would have appreciated Miyata's and Panasonic's track bikes. But I think this Bridgestone would have done more to remind him of his beloved Frejus.